Each skin tone has its own Achilles’ heel. Skin care is not ‘one size fits all’. Below, one of Allure magazine’s beauty experts explains the complexion issues unique to your color, and how best to treat them.
The problem: “Skin cells become sticky and don’t shed properly,” explains Susan C. Taylor, founding director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals in New York City. “You get uneven skin tone, such as dark patches on the cheeks and forehead.”
Top treatment: AHAs like glycolic, malic, or lactic acids. “They break the bonds between dead cells so they shed more easily, and they’re less irritating to dark skin than rough, granular scrubs,” says Taylor. She recommends DDF Glycolic 10% Exfoliating Moisturizer.
The problem: “Skin pigment provides some natural sun protection, but since fair skin has little, it’s more prone to free-radical damage from ultraviolet rays,” says Mary P. Lupo, a professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.
Top treatment: “In the morning, use antioxidants like vitamin C, green tea, and CoffeeBerry, then repair skin at night with retinol to smooth its surface,” says Lupo. She likes SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic and SkinMedica Tri Retinol Complex
EAST ASIAN AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN
The problem: Seborrheic keratosis. “Studies have shown that Chinese and Koreans have large numbers of these growths, which look like raised brown spots on the face,” Taylor explains. The only way to get rid of them is to have a doctor remove them. “It’s as simple as removing a mole.”
Top treatment: “One study showed that women who protected their skin from the sun had fewer growths,” says Taylor, who prefers sheer sunscreens like Topix Replenix Ultra Sheer Sunscreen SPF 55.
SOUTH ASIAN AND DARK MIDDLE EASTERN
The problem: “Deep olive skin is especially prone to dark patches by the upper lip, on the cheeks, and on the forehead, which can be exacerbated by sun exposure, irritating skin treatments, or picking at skin,” says Taylor.
Top treatment: Apply a hydroquinone cream or gel both morning and night, says Taylor. (We love NeoStrata HQ Skin Lightening Gel.) Because it will lighten normal skin, precise spot application is crucial, she adds; try using a lip brush, like Jane Iredale Retractable Lip Brush.
The problem: Sagging and melasma. “Many Latinas end up with photodamage, like Caucasians, and pigmentation problems, like those with darker skin,” says Taylor.
Top treatment: Retinol. “It stimulates collagen to firm skin, and it’s been demonstrated to help reduce excess pigmentation,” she says. To minimize the irritation that’s common with retinol—and can trigger even more pigmentation—use it every third night to start, and add one night a week until you build up to five nights a week, advises Taylor, who recommends PCA Skin Retinol Renewal pHaze 26.